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Super Saina storms into quarter-finals

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Saina Nehwal
London, Aug 2: It was a good day for Indian badminton at the London Olympics 2012 on Wednesday. First, it was P Kashyap in men's singles and now Saina Nehwal in women's singles. Saina too stormed into the quarter-finals at the Wembley Arena.

It was a day that belonged to the players from the same city, Hyderabad and training under same coach Pullela Gopichand. Earlier in the day, Kashyap reached where no Indian had before. He became the first male singles shuttler to reach the last eight stage of Olympics.

World number five Saina displayed her top-class game to oust Jie Yao of The Netherlands 21-14, 21-16 in the round of 16 in front of cheering Indian fans, to join his city mate. Kashyap was in the stands to support Saina.

The fourth seeded Saina will now meet Tine Baun of Denmark, who is world number seven and seeded five in London. The match is scheduled for Thursday.

In the head-to-head record between the two, it is 3-3. The recent meeting between Saina and Baun had ended in favour of the former. It was at the Malaysia Open in January this year where Saina had won 21-13, 21-23, 21-13 over her 33-year-old opponent.

It was for the second successive Olympics that Saina has reached the quarter-finals. In Beijing 2008, she had made it to the last eight phase only to falter there. This time she will be hoping to go all the way to the gold medal.

The 22-year-old took 40 minutes to down her 14th seeded opponent. Towards the later stages of the second game, the 35-year-old Yao showed signs of fatigue. But, overall it was an excellent show by Saina.

Saina, who has won India's highest sporting honour, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, scored 23 points with serve and 19 points without serve. Her biggest lead in the first game was 11 and five in the second.

India's hopes in badminton are with Kashyap and Saina. The other three players, V Diju, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa have bowed out of the competition.

OneIndia News

Story first published: Thursday, August 2, 2012, 0:18 [IST]
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